Into the Arms of Strangers

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport is by far the most moving and emotional movie released in a long time. The stories of these Jewish children illustrate the power of love and hope in a horrible time in history, the beginning of World War II in Eastern Europe. The Kindertransport is the British program that saved Jewish children by shuttling them to England by train and then ship. They left the danger and familiarity of their families to the welcome arms of foster families in Britain, seemingly far away and safe.

Judy Dench (Shakespeare in Love, The World is Not Enough) provides sparse narration in order to let the survivors speak. Into the Arms of Strangers traces their paths from childhood to the present. At some point in the late thirties, it was apparent to them that they were Jewish and treated different. With Hitler's rise to power, things became even worse. When news of Jewish persecution began to spread across the world, politicians in England agreed to accept children and saved nearly 10,000 (the United States did not). Some of the most heartbreaking moments come with the survivors discussing the separation from their parents at the train stations. Many of their parents told them they would follow shortly, just so that the children would board the train. It would be the last time that some of the children ever saw their parents.

The story then moves to England with the children adjusting to their new lives. The experiences of the children cross the spectrum, from outright love to removal to another family. The unifying theme is the willingness of these English to let a child into their household. If not for their generosity, many of the people interviewed would not be here today. Writer/director Mark Jonathan Harris (The Long Way Home, The Homefront) discovered some remarkable archival footage and photographs. It's hard describing the impact of this film, because the only real way to experience it is to watch it, and see these individuals triumph over such horrible adversity. Just try to hold back the tears when watching Into the Arms of Strangers.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Good.
1 hour, 57 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements.

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